Some thoughts on the Edinson Volquez deal:
-P- Obviously, we'll look past the ERAs and go straight to the stats that matter. If we didn't know to do this before the Francisco Liriano signing last year, we should now. Volquez has had xFIPs in the low fours each of the last three seasons, which still isn't much in this pitcher-friendly era, but it's something. His strikeout rate is nothing special and his walk rate is outright bad, but he does at least get some ground balls.
-P- The Pirates deserve some leeway here. They've gotten good results from all sorts of unsung pitchers, and there's reason to hope that Volquez, who throws hard and throws sinkers, might be the next.
-P- In spite of that, if this is supposed to be the Pirates' rotation fix, that's pretty depressing. There are plenty of similarities between Volquez circa 2013 and Liriano circa 2012, but that doesn't mean the magic is going to work twice, and you'd hope the Pirates would be interested in more up-market players, especially with the possibility of A.J. Burnett not returning. It would be nice if not every purchase had to be a fixer-upper project. The better houses are usually higher-priced for a reason. If I'm being unrealistic, even after a terrific season that featured a big spike in attendance, that saddens me.
-P- Speaking of which, I'm not sure how to read this with regard to Burnett's situation. Maybe this means the Pirates think Burnett isn't returning, since they now have Gerrit Cole, Liriano, Charlie Morton, Jeff Locke, Volquez and whatever's going on with Wandy Rodriguez. Then again, maybe the cheap price of this deal is a hedge -- if Burnett retires or goes elsewhere, then the Pirates can make do with what they have, but if Burnett does elect to return, the Pirates won't feel too bad about bumping Volquez or someone else to the bullpen, and perhaps trading from their stockpile of pitchers there. Someone in the organization told Travis Sawchik that Volquez's deal wouldn't prevent the Pirates from re-signing Burnett, which is good.
-P- So: I don't like this signing much, but I think the Pirates deserve the benefit of the doubt to a degree. Still, I'm hopeful that there will be other, better moves on the horizon.